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Dharma Gleanings


cynthia rich

November 25, 2015—December 6, 2015

November 25, 2015
I have the answer to the question women sometimes ask: “How do I look?” As my friends could testify, I am not very appearance conscious, and I can go a day without glancing in a mirror.

However, my new home has three mirrors, in the bedroom, the bathroom and the hallway as I go out the door. I laughed when I noticed that, quite consistently, if I go from one to another, in the hallway I look, by conventional standards, somehow all wrong, in the bedroom I look OK, and in the bathroom I look gorgeous.

Now if this is true of three perfectly ordinary mirrors, and I am the sole observer, how much more so if I am in a room with ten other people? Am I all wrong, OK, or perfectly gorgeous?

“How do I look?” becomes a koan, opening me to emptiness.

November 29, 2015
Today a friend says that she doesn’t wish to have lunch at Emilio’s Cafe because she used to like it, however last time she ate there she was disappointed.

Restaurants are like friends and lovers. Like everything and everyone else in the cosmos, they are manifestations. Sometimes they are manifesting well and because we are manifesting well, all is wonderful. Sometimes they are manifesting well and because we are not manifesting well, we are disappointed. Sometimes they are not manifesting well and because we are manifesting well, it’s all right (we think, “OK, maybe the chef/my partner had a hard day.”) Sometimes they are not manifesting well and we are not manifesting well and we decide the meal/the conversation was a disaster, and perhaps we should have nothing more to do with that friend/restaurant.

Usually we believe that it is only the restaurant/friend that is manifesting, that we are a stable entity. We often believe that the manifestation of the restaurant or friend that we see today—whether pleasing or not—is not really today’s/this hour’s manifestation but a permanent state. Much of the difficulty of our lives comes as we try to stabilize the restaurant or the friend—the restaurant is no longer any good, the friend has shown her lack of character—when they are simply manifesting.

December 5, 2015
Yesterday I was honored by a revelation. It has felt like the kind that apparently often accompanies LSD, or that folks like Adyashanti or Shinzen Young or Tolle describe. I have been moving into it for some time—rather as if some weights, one after another, were placed on a board and one day the balance suddenly tipped. It is surprising yet not surprising, different yet not different, since the weights have been building, so it was likely they would add to this point and yet one couldn’t have predicted the day. One was prepared, yet not prepared.

Of course the image of the weights is exactly wrong, because what I have been experiencing more and more has been lightening. Enlightenment is not simply the light of a lightbulb, although one does see with new clarity—it is the light of lightening our burdens of conditioning and so of suffering.

I wrote down the revelation, however the realization was experiential, a shift in my way of being in the world, not an “understanding”:

If I hold myself lightly, keep awareness of my essential lightness, I can see that everything that we experience as solid, as form, is only the manifestation that it enjoys at this moment.

Our individual manifestations—there are many of “us” and each of “us” (apparently distinct entities) has myriad manifestations—can be delightful, poignant, fascinating, to be enjoyed, however only as the flash of light in a fireworks display or the beauty and interest of a single wave. They are and they are not substantial.

There are endearing differences between myself and everything else, however there are no enduring differences.

The secret, the key is holding myself lightly. The reward is the richness of the universe without its heavy weight. The reward is no fear.

December 6, 2015
Everything in the society around us discourages the freedom of lightness, and urges us to heaviness. The more we can pile on ourselves, like wearing many layers of overcoats, the more we can feel valued and substantial. So we weight ourselves with information, stories, strong opinions, experiences, judgments, because the worst thing we can be is a “light-weight.”